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Lifetime benefits of healthy cholesterol and blood pressure quantified

Tuesday September 3rd, 2019

People with genetically low cholesterol and blood pressure levels enjoy significant lifetime protection against cardiovascular disease, according to the findings of a major study unveiled yesterday.

Researchers at Cambridge University, UK, said it was the first study to attempt to measure the benefits of keeping cholesterol levels healthy and blood pressure levels low throughout a lifetime.

The findings were reported to the conference of the European Society of Cardiology in Paris and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers studied more than 400,000 people in the UK Biobank. Nearly 25,000 had suffered major coronary events.

They used Mendelian randomisation to seek to achieve the rigour of a randomised control trial.

As part of the process 100 exome variants were used to estimate cholesterol levels and 61 exome variants to estimate blood pressure levels experienced by each participant during the course of their lifetime.

The researchers acknowledge that they have not included information about medication or lifestyle factors that might affect risk in later life.

According to the calculations, those with low blood pressure and healthy cholesterol levels enjoyed an 80% reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The risk of dying from these conditions was reduced by 67%.

Researcher Professor Brian Ference said: “Heart and circulatory diseases steal the lives of 168,000 people each year in the UK, which is just greater than the population of the city of Cambridge. It’s vital we do everything possible to help prevent people developing these life-threating conditions.

“Even small reductions in both bad cholesterol and blood pressure for sustained periods of time can pay very big health dividends, and dramatically reduce the lifetime risk of developing heart and circulatory disease.”

British Heart Foundation medical director Professor Sir Nilesh Samani said: “This research again demonstrates that high blood pressure and raised cholesterol are key risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. But how many of us know our numbers for these, or have made sustained efforts to lower them?

"Hopefully, the findings reported today, that the risk could be reduced by as much as 80%, can act as a motivator for long-term change."

Association of Genetic Variants Related to Combined Exposure to Lower Low-Density Lipoproteins and Lower Systolic Blood Pressure With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. JAMA 2 September 2019

Tags: Diet & Food | Europe | Fitness | Genetics | Heart Health | UK News

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